Post Viral Blahs

You know how yesterday’s poem encouraged leaving the rage on the page? Well, I took my own advice this morning and had a good auld vent. Basically, being post-viral and sort of up and doing, I was feeling overwhelmed, tired, emotional, cranky…the usual way you feel when you aren’t diseased enough to be confined to quarters, but are not one hundred percent. My mother used to call it a bad case of the blahs. Got it in spades today.

So just a few lines today. Meanwhile, I am going to enjoy one of my Valentine’s Day presents – The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried and True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul. William Sieghart put that volume together. There is also an Emergency Poet, who operates out of a de-commissioned ambulance. Deborah Alma, the Emergency Poet, has recently found premises in Shropshire to set up an actual shop front Poetry Pharmacy. They got a mortgage to buy it and all!

Meanwhile, between leafing through that volume and waving the sage around I’ve been working out my own prescription.

Post Viral Blahs

When everything is just too much,
but nothing feels ever enough.
No bloody effort ever will...!

Damn her eyes when she is right!
That Marie Kondo tidy up making
the boudoir all sweetness and light.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Two Baldwins, One Poem

I woke in the dark, but there was such a cat-cophany early on what went on the page was a litany of cat complaints. It is never a good idea to try me first thing in the morning. It is never a good idea to try and make noise before I am two cups of caffeine into the day. House rules, guys! There was also the matter that I had a morning workshop at the open prison, based around Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. It’s always kind of rock and roll, you never know who will show up, or how many, or what sort of writing experience they will have, if any. I generally have about three different plans in my head.

When I got home I took the Old Dog for a little dander down the lane, which meant it was more like taking a toddler for a walk. We had to stop a lot for Ellie to sniff and limp along and have a little rest. Christina Baldwin’s quote “Move at the pace of guidance” popped into my head. Once inside, that collided with one from James Baldwin: “Nothing is stable under heaven.”

And so, the poem for today.

Quest

Who am I?
Where am I?
and
What am I doing here?

I have been known to
ask these questions
while standing inert
in my kitchen
before the open door
of my fridge.

What is lost?
Where was it found?
Who is it standing
here on this ground?

"Nothing is stable..."
(especially this thing called 'I')
"under heaven" being where
if not the ultimate why.
Where is the here  I
lost track of myself?

So go tell it on the page.
Give it some answers.
Give it your rage.
Ask some more questions.

Trace a path, line upon line.
Let them roam open
in every direction.
Try east, west, north, south
by process of elimination.

At some stage "under heaven"
You'll find your internal compass.
Your heart knows its true north.
It bypasses every delusion.

"Move at the pace of guidance"
heart and hand moving as one
across the page, teaching a great patience.
The page will become your piece of heaven,
with  signposts,  a place of grace and balance.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Cossetting the Common Cold

A hacking cough had me up in the wee hours which I whiled for some writing, before dropping off again. Not sure it qualifies as poetry. But I have tried. Meanwhile, I am resting and binge watching Netflix like any sensible sick person in the Western World. What has preoccupied me from the fastness of my bedroom is the importance of comfort and how it ought never be taken for granted. Today, the poetry practice is a kind of list paean. It may not be a cure for the common cold, but it seems to be working for me. Along with naps.

Creature Comforts

To cosset the common cold
please take:

one bound notebook,
cream pages with grey lines
begging to be stroked by a pen's nib
to course and flow with jet ink

one very large cup
(rather like a small bowl)
with circumferance wide enough
to cool hot tea to an ideal

unfevered temperature. Yes to the
Earl Grey with a touch of lavender.
Yes, a slice of lemon and, also,
yes to some sugar. Please.

I know! I know! It's bad for me.
Just like that stack of undemanding reads,
books that are not necessarily
literature, schlocky comfort reads,

not too sad or over-exciting,
with a happy-ish ending or a
satisfying solution dished out
with a dollop of creme anglaise.

Also, the hot water bottle wrapped
in its handknit  wooly jumper,
the balmy brand of tissues just to hand.
And the accompanying waste barrel.

The living, breathing,
yawning, farting, yowling,
meowing. snuffling, gently snoring,
dreaming dogs and drowsy cats

who settle in with me to binge watch
old TV shows from my youth,
or the monochrome world
of silver screen 30s and 40s movies

all in the comfort of my darkened room
It's like taking honey with my nostrums
and having my dinner served on a tray -
nothing at all like any old school day.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Mercury – Retrograde

Of course I am late with poetry practice! It’s lunchtime and I’ve lost sleep overnight with the feverish cold and sinus infection that blossomed over the Sabbath. For different reasons, like Jeffrey Bernard (RIP), I am unwell. Unlike Mr. Bernard, I have no substitute article to run. Besides, it would feel like cheating. I am wrapped up warm with my laptop in bed. Let’s just leave it at a slight disruption of normal services. Which is a foreshadowing of the astrological phenominum known as Mercury Retrograde.

Of course, no planet’s orbit ever does turn back on itself. It’s just an optical illusion from our point of view on earth. However, astrologers have collected enough data to now correlate certain circumstances happening when Mercury goes retrograde. These include: technological breakdowns and glitches, transport snarls and hold ups, messages get mixed up, weather events that create stoppages. Mercury mayhem. We are advised not to buy cars, major appliances, or sign contracts during the three weeks when Mercury is retrograde three times a year.

On a more positive note, it is said to be good for anything that begins with ‘re-‘ – rewind, review, revisit, remember, requite. Editting old poems is an activity that should be well-starred.

However, there are additional weeks that foreshadow this mini-era of gremlins, tricksters and general frustrators. In 2019, I counted up twenty-five weeks out of the fifty-two that involves the run up and playing out of Mercury retrograde. And the foreshadowing of 2019’s first Mercury retrograde technically begins tomorrow. But I have seen some foreshadowing already in my inability to access some websites. The real McCoy Mercury Retrograde happens from 5th March. Plan for plans to change and change and change.

Meanwhile, resuming poetry practice…even if it is on a ‘Go Slow.’In between sneezing fits, sputters, coughes, and nose honking.

Mercury Retrograde

You can't go forwards
for going backwards
when its a full stop...

It's like you travel on
the local train and the express
flashes past

It makes you feel like
you are caught in a freeze frame.
Remember

the women in white swimsuit
caught mid-dive
in the Tampax ad?

That son of a So and So
trickster, who had a mother
fittingly called Maia.

It's all a con,
a sleight of hand,
conjuring trick.

Part myth and
part major irritation,
Mercury retrograde

winds you up
just like a clock.
And then it stops.

It's a pie in your face.
It's a spanner in your works.
Both designed to irk.

Unless you are in on the joke.
Unless you don't mind
an extended mending time

into the more timeless.
It's never a stop, just
a press on to pause.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.



Featured Photo by David Menidrey on Unsplash

How to Hold Quicksilver

It’s dawn. The dwarf narcissi and iris are out. The white crocus I planted last September is flowering. But I have such a sore throat this morning you would have thought I had been quaffing vitriol in my dreamtime. Meanwhile, the weather is blustery. There was rain overnight. I probably need to have a traditionally restful Sabbath. But, as my dear husband told a friend he bumped into in the supermarket yesterday morning, “Since she started writing a poem a day, nothing happens in our house until it gets written!”

May today prove restful for you, too! May we all be well! And may there be a bit of poetry.

In the meantime, poetry practice…

How to Hold Quicksilver

The thermometer glass
shattered
and its elemental being
scattered
like ball bearings
just not all one way.

They got away
everywhere all at once
a sunburst.

Hermes is truly god-like
in every sense
of the catechism's
definition
of God.


A solid enough
elemental presence,
but fleet as wings,
or hope, yet not
evanescent.
It's moodily
inscrutible,
a being completely
bewildering.

How can you hold
quicksilver?
How can you hold
that man-god
who made you
fall in love?


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by DAVIDCOHEN on Unsplash

Keep the Music Playing

Five months have passed since I started to write a poem a day and posting it on this blog. It started as poetry practice, the etudes of my youthful piano playing. It’s Saturday. When I was ten or so that would have found me in Miss Mildred’s upstairs room for a piano lesson. She was the one who gave me the etude sheet music. I was an indifferent piano scholar and intermittant with half-hour daily piano practice. Here I am fifty years on, finally getting the hang of it. Kind of…

In truth, my mother later confessed that I really ought to have had singing lessons with Miss Laura, the downstairs sister who taught voice. But she was a termigant, or reputedly so. My mother didn’t feel that talent should be an excuse for volunteering her sensitive child for trauma. But Mom came from a musical family and wanted to pass on that lore to her youngest child; Miss Mildred seemed the lesser evil. Both sisters had been Juilliard trained and promised more value for money than the nun who taught piano at our school at the time.

But I digress…. the five months of faithful daily poetry etude-making. But I did wonder this morning…how much longer can I keep this up? It is forty-five days until NaPoWriMo in April, when there will be poetry prompts for the daily taking. I woke up in a bit of a funk. Perhaps my bowels are disordered. Perhaps not. And yet, I picked up the pen…eventually, if a bit reluctantly.

Open Window

There are some mornings
where I would rather
listen to the birds sing
than pay attention to
my off-key musings.
Their notes need no lyrics.
Polyphony rings
round the townland, no words
to their offerings
heard through open window.
I can't stop looking.
There's two magpies. What joy
there is some mornings
where I would rather
listen to the birds sing.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Dolo Iglesias on Unsplash

Spring Flow

Irrefutably, it is springtime. At least in our far corner of West Cavan Spring has arrived. The narcissi Tete a tete have flowered, not just in the pots, but out in sheltered parts of the garden. The first croci and hydrangea are starting to bloom. Of the wild flowers, the bold aconite has been out for a couple of weeks, outfacing the snow and frost at Brigid’s Day. The hellebores are in flower. The first of the primroses are flowering, too, again in a sheltered corner of the garden.

Yesterday was the first of what my husband terms ‘laundry days!’ Mostly sunny, mild,and with a breeze that promises it will dry your washing if you hang it on the line outdoors. Given the humidity in Ireland, outdoor drying is something of an art and whim of nature. Yesterday was the first time in many months that I chanced pegging out washing on the line.

We have now had the official opening of spring in my part of Ireland. Which happens to be a stunningly beautiful area. So much so that UNESCO recognises its significant natural and built heritage by naming it as a geopark. I live in a geopark community on the first village on the River Shannon after it pokes its head out from underground caverns and begins to flow towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Poetry practice may have an element of spring fever to it today. But indulge me a little as I have been up since dawn’s earliest suggestion of light. The dawn over the Playbank was a full on kiss this morning.

Arteries

Peachy rose gold threads
brocading the light
coming up over the Playbank.

The throated notes of waking up song
Is it a robin?
I do not know for sure.

The trickle of the flow-
ditch, spring, stream to out from, feed in
the River Shannon down below.

A clear light. A song's note.
Springtime.
A rise in bloodheat.

The snow on the Playbank
melted ages ago,
a cataract tear

flowing down the drumlins
sculpting  the karst below over ages
with the seasons' flow.